Arkansas Democratic candidate for governor, Chris Jones, recently shared his opinion via press release concerning the state’s controversial redistricting plans. Jones’ campaign says, “the Arkansas Legislature has finished its work on redistricting after drawing the state’s new congressional district maps. These new congressional districts are predicated on dividing the state’s largest county, its capital city, and its majority African-American and Latino/a communities into three different congressional districts. These maps are widely expected to result in court intervention.”
On Oct. 7, 2021, after two weeks of heated debate, legislation was approved by each chamber that will divide two of the state’s largest counties, Pulaski and Sebastian. Under Senate Bill 743 from Republican Jane English of North Little Rock and House Bill 1982 from Republican Nelda Sparks of Mountain Home, most of Pulaski County including all of Little Rock would remain in the 2nd congressional district.
Portions of southeast and extreme south Pulaski County would be moved to the 1st and 4th districts. Fort Smith and northern Sebastian County, meanwhile, would remain in the 3rd district with the remainder of the county moved to the 4th.
“Arkansans wants our leaders to bring us together and end our division. These maps do the opposite, intentionally carving up our neighborhoods to restrict and dilute fair representation. This is not how democracy should work,” said Jones. “So many Americans who have fought for freedoms and struggled to have their voices heard were shut out of this redistricting process. This will prove costly and chaotic for Arkansas — costly and chaotic as these maps head to court, costly and chaotic for our communities seeking fair elections, and costly and chaotic for our state’s national reputation.”
The Arkansas Senate approved the bill on a 21-12 vote, while the House approved an identical measure 53-35.
Jones added, “Basic fairness is not too much to ask. We won’t let Arkansas’s vote be shut out or drowned out. No matter how heavy the weight is put on our communities, we will ensure every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”
Both HB1982 and its Senate companion have been sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson for final consideration. The governor has also expressed concern about the dilution of minority representation. Read more and view the new maps here.